Thursday, August 26, 2010


Everyone who lives in Africa for very long accumulates a nice trove of stories around ineptitude - there's the friend of mine who, for example, picked her car up from the mechanic, only to find that they had sliced her entire car engine clear in half. Or another friend who followed up with a supplier on the school supplies he'd been told had been ordered 6 months earlier, only to find that the order was never placed. The person-I-shall-not-name who tried to clean our car with steel wool. Things like that happen regularly in Malawi.

But Jorge had a very interesting experience of ineptitude while walking through a busy shopping area of Lilongwe last week. He was going to meet a friend, when a very tiny Malawian man walked up to him and said "Give me the money."

"What?" Said Jorge, a little surprised. We're used to small children yelling out "Givah me a-mon-ee!" as we walk past, but it's unusual for adults to be so bold.

"Give me the money!" He repeated. Again, Jorge was just totally confused, and said again, "What?!"

Finally, the little man pulled from his pocket a small, blunt kitchen knife, about 3 inches in length, and repeated his demand. At this point Jorge was still a wee bit puzzled, and amused at the size of the knife, but was starting to realize that the poor guy was trying to rob him. So Jorge just said "No." The little Malawian seemed to be stumped at that point, unable to figure out what his next move should be.

At that point Jorge saw the friend he was meeting, waved, and then gently took the would-be-robber's hand and held it out of his way as he walked the few feet to talk to his friend. The foiled robber just continued to stand there plaintively nearby,I suppose still hoping for some money, as the crowds all milled around them. And then Jorge walked off and went on with his day.

It makes me very grateful indeed that Malawi is still at the point where most people haven't even figured how to be criminal very well.


Suzanne said...

I'm so glad this story has a happy ending. miss you xoxox